Ukraine main focus at Foreign Affairs Council meetings in Brussels
Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets (Center) attended the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on Monday, where she also met separately with her Ukrainian counterpart and with the European Commissioner for Home Affairs. High on the agenda were Ukraine-related issues and EU enlargement.
At a meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Liimets stressed that Ukraine must be given EU candidate country status, and said that frozen Russian assets should be used for Ukraine's reconstruction, according to a ministry press release.
In addition to Ukraine's EU accession perspective and short- and long term financial aid, the foreign ministers of the EU and Ukraine also discussed fighting disinformation the Russian regime is using as a hybrid weapon as well as continuing to impose sanctions on Russia.
"We understand that there are differences in the extent of dependence on Russia's energy carriers, including oil, but this is why we have proposed a transition period as a solution," Liimets said.
"Ukraine must win this war, and on our part, we can help by stopping all funding of Russia," she continued. "Russia must be held responsible for the damage it has caused and the crimes it has committed."
More than six million people have fled Ukraine due to the war, over 37,000 of whom have arrived in Estonia — equaling more than 2.8 percent of Estonia's population.
"I was in Ukraine recently and saw very clearly the horrors the Ukrainians have had to bear," Liimets recalled. "They need all the help and support we can give them."
The Estonian foreign minister also met with European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, from whom she requested the allocation of additional EU support to help Estonia cover costs related to the refugees from Ukraine it has received, including the provision of accommodations, education and healthcare.
The ministers also discussed the EU enlargement process in the Western Balkans. Estonia's position is that countries that support the EU's common foreign and security policy should be included in EU discussions to a greater extent, the ministry said.
"Estonia supports launching accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, and launching talks on visa freedom with Kosovo," Liimets said. "These countries have made efforts to become part of the EU. Our strength is in unity, and the European Commission is working on making it possible."
Also held in the framework of the Foreign Affairs Council was a meeting of EU foreign ministers and Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly. On the agenda were issues including the coordination of humanitarian and defense aid to Ukraine as well as the development of transatlantic relations.
In her statement, Liimets also thanked Canada for its contributions to the security of the Baltic states. Among other contributions, Canada is also the lead country in NATO Battlegroup Latvia and has previously served on the Baltic Air Policing mission out of Siauliai, Lithuania.
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Editor: Aili Vahtla